Katie Singer www.electronicsilentspring.com
In early August, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a rule that will allow unlicensed devices (such as bluetooth technologies, mobile phones and garage door openers) to operate on the same frequency as heart and fetal monitors used by hospitals. This will likely prevent the monitors from functioning properly.
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To learn more
about the FCC's new ruling and medical monitoring equipment, please read on
here: FCC OKs Use of Unlicensed Devices on
Patient Monitoring Frequency
iHealthBeat, August 7, 2015
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule that will allow unlicensed devices to operate on the same frequency as hospitals' remote patient monitoring systems, FierceHealthIT reports.
In 2000, FCC allocated the unoccupied television airwave Channel 37 exclusively for medical monitoring equipment after a 1998 incident in which a TV broadcaster interfered with a hospital's low-powered heart monitors. Prior to 2000, hospitals had used other channels to operate unlicensed wireless patient-monitoring devices (iHealthBeat, 5/14/08).
The channel is used by devices that measure patients' vital signs and other important health metrics.
According to FierceHealthIT, FCC approved the rules allowing unlicensed devices -- such as Bluetooth technologies, garage door openers and wireless phones -- to operate on Channel 37 with the expectation that so-called TV "white space" frequencies are likely to become more limited.
In the vote, FCC said that unlicensed devices will not interfere with hospital monitoring technologies that use Channel 37 (FierceHealthIT, 8/6).
However, to ease some stakeholders' security concerns, FCC added certain protections for providers that use the frequency.
Specifically, FCC said it will automatically extend protection zones around hospitals that file waiver requests. The expansion would be up to three times the normal 380-meter buffer zone (Allen et al., "Morning eHealth," Politico, 8/7).
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who proposed the additional protections, said the extended buffer zones would remain in place throughout the agency's review of the waiver.